Here is a list of ancient Islamic architectural structures in India (Century-Wise).

1. Islamic Architecture in India (12th Century C.E)

Advent of Islam in India:

A new era began towards 12th century C.E with the advent of Islams. These people have forced themselves on the ancient and firmly established social and religious structure in India. They brought with them their native practices, conceptions and beliefs.

Indo-Islamic Architecture:

This part of the study is concerned with different kind of building art developed in India from 12th century C.E. These new buildings were in marked contrast with that prevailing in India. New building practices have come into existence by now.

Hence, the architecture flourished during this period was a blend of local and exotic designs. It was a blend of Indian, Islamic and Persian styles. Thus, the Islamic architecture developed in India may be termed as Indo-Islamic architecture.


Indo-Islamic architecture is the impact of Islamic ideas and techniques on the established civilization of Hindu kingdoms in India. It is a synthesis between two divergent building systems that of Hindus and Muslims. Indian craftsmen blended to sculptural traditions of Hindu architecture and structurally advanced techniques of Islam architecture to produce a unique Indo-Islamic style. It is a Hindu-Muslim joint venture.

Type of Structures Built:

The architecture of native Hindus is mostly confined to temples. Whereas, the Mohammedan architecture in India had presented many different types.

This may be classified into two of the following:

1. Religious structures- These are the Mosques and Tombs.


2. Secular structures- These structures are mainly the forts, palaces, pavilions, town-gates and gardens.

1. Religious Structures:

Comparison of Hindu and Islam Worshipping Structures:

There is a great contrast in the two religions of Hindu and Islam in respect of worshipping structures, the temple and the mosque.


Planning and Focal Point:

The temple is an abode of the deity to which it is consecrated and contains massive walls, long corridors, compartments and high embellishments. The sacred part of a temple is the Sanctum sanctorum (Garbha griha) often deep inside the temple complex. The focal point is the idol of the deity.

Whereas the mosque is open in its design. It has no need of a central shrine or image of deity. It is enough for the devotee to turn to the direction of Mecca, the holy place of Islam. Sanctuary is the sacred part of the mosque and the focal point is the Mihrab in the sanctuary.

The similar elements in an Indian temple and mosque are:

i. Surrounding cloisters

ii. Sanctuary on west. But some temples are exceptional to this.

In a mosque, the central court is totally open. But in a temple the main temple occupies the area of the court.

Walls and Surfaces:

The walls of the temples expand and vibrate with imagery. The temple was given the texture of stone and the natural tint.

Whereas, the presentation of human figures, sculptures, imagery are prohibited in Islam structures. The walls of a mosque are decorated in geometrical patterns in different coloured marbles, plaster, stucco, paints and glazed tiles.

Trabeate and Arcuate:

There are different construction techniques in buildings, one being Trabeate and the other Arcuate. The indigenous architecture of India was of Trabeate order, in which the void spaces in the walls were spanned by means of horizontal lintels or beams. Required lengths of stones are necessary to make such beams to place them over the openings.

Whereas, the Arch technique is different used by Mohammedan builders. An arch can be made up of bricks or pieces of stones. Arch transmits the super loads safely to the ground and does not fail.


The roofs of Hindu structures are mostly flat. Temples have pyramidal roofs or Sikharas. With the advent of Mohammedans, an entirely new element, the dome came into existence.

There were differences and inconsistencies persisting at this time. In spite of this, in course of time a method of design approach had arrived and a common ground to both religious communities was gradually evolved.

Factors Responsible for Production of Great Islam Buildings:

India produced most notable Islam monuments than other countries that came under the influence of Islam.

There are two factors responsible for the great exposition of architecture in India:

1. First is its relatively late development- The construction had already passed through its experimental stages in other countries. Many of the structural difficulties and problems had been solved and a solution had arrived to a fair level.

2. Secondly it is due to the remarkable genius of Indian craftsmen- The Indian craftsmen have the living knowledge in construction and the required skill to work in stone, in which they were excelled and unequalled.

The Mosque (Masjid):

The mosque or masjid is the worshipping place of Islams. It is open in its design.

It contains the following main elements:

i. Sanctuary on west side

ii. Mihrab – a sacred focal point in the Sanctuary

iii. Minbar – a pulpit in the Sanctuary

iv. Surrounding cloisters called Liwans

v. An open courtyard called Sahn


The planning of a mosque starts with a sanctuary which is the essential and sacred part of a mosque. Sanctuary is a pillared hall opening itself on east into the courtyard. The hall is used for religious congregations and prayers called Namaz. A portion of the sanctuary is screened off into a compartment for women (Zenana) in some mosques.

The sanctuary has a central nave and side aisles. The nave is often spacious and raised higher in roof than the aisles. Some mosques have only sanctuary and they had no central open court and cloisters. The façade of sanctuary was monumentally built in some mosques. There is continuous change, innovation and development in the design of pillars, arches, mihrab, parapets, kiosks and turrets.


A religious structure however needs a focal point. To meet this, a recess or an alcove called Mihrab is placed in the center of western wall in the nave of sanctuary indicating the Qibla or direction of prayer. Mihrab is a prayer niche. This is the most sacred and significant portion of a mosque. It takes the form of an alcove in arch shape. In some examples it was formed into multiple alcoves within each other containing a half dome over it decorated with ornamental geometrical forms.


This is a raised platform with steps for the preacher to deliver the sermon. This is placed to the north of Mihrab in the sanctuary. Number of steps and its design and decoration varies from one to other.

Open Courtyard and Cloisters:

In front of sanctuary an open place takes place without roof called Sahn. The other three sides are covered by pillared cloisters called Liwans. By this the mosque is totally enclosed and secured. It is entered usually through three gates each on east, south and north except on west. Main entrance mostly takes place on east. A water tank is placed in the center of open court for ablutions. Occasionally a fountain also takes place in this tank.

Screen of Arches and Dome:

While constructing the historical earlier mosques at the end of 12th century at Delhi and Ajmer, the pillars and the stones brought from the dismantled temples were utilized. Hence the mosque sanctuary appeared like a temple pillared hall (Mandapa). Therefore to impose the appearance of a mosque, a separate screen of arches of huge size was added across the front of the sanctuary.

Arch became a symbol of Islam structures. But the added screen of arches is obstructing the view of the dome of the sanctuary from the front, though this combination is pleasing from the sides or back of the building.

Such examples are:

i. Qutb mosque, Delhi

ii. Arhai-din-ka Jhompra mosque, Ajmer

Later in some mosque buildings, the dome was raised to more height than the screen, thus giving a pleasing look from the front.

Eg- Jama Masjid at Ahmedabad, Jama Masjid at Champaner

In the mosques of south India built in provinces in Malwa, Bijapur and Deccan, the sanctuary façade is not separately built or added. The façade was the outcome of united design with its interior.

Designs of Mosques:

There are large number of varieties of mosques built in India. Layout of these mosques is same in all mosques having sanctuary on west side and cloisters on other sides. Entrances, façades, arches and domes are varied in their mass and design. Row of arches became the prominent feature. Sanctuary façades varied much in their designs like simple, ornamental, artistic, monumental, fine and royal.

Feature wise examples are mentioned here:

i. Sanctuary nave is spacious and pillars less in some mosques. Eg- Adina masjid, Pandua Jaunpur mosques.

ii. Classical decorated pillars are made in the nave making a Rotunda extended in tiers above. Eg- Jama masjid, Ahmedabad.

iii. Sanctuary and cloister entrances are much elaborated, projected and highlighted. Eg- Jaunpur mosques and Jama masjid, Ahmedabad.

iv. Central arch of Sanctuary façade is made different by means of foliated arch. Eg- Jama masjid, Bijapur.

v. One and only example of Mosque which has no open central court is- Jama masjid, Gulbarga.

vi. Worshiping hall for Royals (Chapel) and Zenana were added in first floor in a grand scale. Eg- Adina masjid, Pandua and Jaunpur mosques.

vii. Royal and palace type mosques are- Jama masjid, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra and Jama masjid, Delhi.

vii. Simple design mosques are- Jama masjid, Mandu and Bijapur.

The Tomb:

The other class of building of religious order was the tomb building, introduced into India as an entirely new kind of structure. It is not the custom of Indians to raise a structure to mark the resting place of the dead. The custom of Hindus is to cremate the dead body.

With the advent of Mohammedans, these new tomb structures were raised in due course into Indian landscape. Islams bury the body and build a structure over it in memory of the dead. Tomb is the everlasting abode for the dead. Finest Indo-Islamic architecture was developed in these structures.

The tomb building usually consists of a single compartment or a chamber known as ‘Huzrah’ or ‘Estanah’. The cenotaph or Zarih is in the center. The whole structure is roofed over by a dome. The mortuary chamber called the ‘Maqbarah’ takes place in the ground underneath with the grave or Qabr in the middle.

Mihrab is placed in the western wall. A separate mosque building is added in some of the larger mausoleums, the whole being contained within an enclosure called ‘Rauza’. Important tombs are designated as ‘Dargahs’ a Persian word signifying a court or palace.

Designs of Tombs:

Tomb building designs vary from one to other and that of Sultans mainly Tughlaqs, Sayyids and Lodis are either Square or Octagonal in plans built at Delhi. Square tombs are taller and Octagonal tombs are wider in general. These structures had battering walls, sphere head fringes in arches, merlon parapets, central dome and kiosks.

Designs of Mogul tombs are further improved and are more refined. They are large, spacious, fine, rich and monumental in appearance consisting of surrounding garden, enclosure walls and gateways. They are square in plan having chamfered corners. Domes, kiosks and slender turrets sky-lined on these tomb structures. Fine Ashlar masonry and close inlaid patterns are seen in Mogul tomb structures.

Tomb structures of Bijapur, Bidar, Golconda and Malwa provinces were plaster finished.

Some distinguished examples are mentioned here:


i. Earlier tomb – Tomb of Shams-ud-din Altumush, Delhi

ii. Beautiful tomb – Taj Mahal, Agra

iii. Large tomb – Golgumbaz, Bijapur

iv. Fine and Variety tomb – Itmad ud Daula, Agra

v. Later tomb – Mausoleum of Safdar Jung, Delhi.

2. Secular Structures:

In addition to mosques and tombs, there are other important structures, which are of secular nature.

These are briefly described here:

i. Tin Darwaza, Ahmedabad, 1425 C.E:

This is a triumphal archway in the city of Ahmedabad. It was the central feature of Ahmed shah’s processional route, connecting the palace and the Jama Masjid, Ahmedabad. The archway is known as Tin Darwaza or triple doors. It contains three archways. It is now encroached by shops and is now a commonplace bazaar.

ii. Wavs or Step Wells:

The other secular structures are the step-wells or wavs. These wells were common in the towns of western India. The practice of construction of step-wells was there even earlier to Islams ruling. Muslim rulers also continued the tradition. As the region is hot and nearer to desert, hence public wells were built to meet people’s water needs.

In no other parts of India, have these commonplace objects been enlarged or embellished to such an extent. The Wavs of Gujarat were not merely constructions over the well shaft, but took the form of extensive subterranean galleries of a high architectural value.

Eg- Bai Hari wav, Ahmedadbad, 1494 C.E; Wav at Adalaj, near Ahmedabad.

Main Divisions of Islamic Architecture:

Delhi was the capital city and the centre of Imperial power. Islamic architecture developed in various parts of India was much associated, connected and influenced mainly with the ruler at Delhi.

These structures may be resolved into three main divisions, namely:

1. The Delhi or Imperial Style (1200 to 1526 C.E):

Imperial style of architecture was developed and continued at Delhi and its surroundings for nearly four centuries beginning at the close of 12th century up to the middle of 16th century, when it was succeeded by Moguls.

2. Architecture of Provinces (1150 to 1687 C.E):

The second of these styles, the provincial refers to the building art developed in the self-contained Provinces away from Delhi and their governors under the obeisance to Delhi Sultans.

3. Mogul Period (1526 to 1707 C.E):

In the second quarter of 16th century, Moguls raised and brought whole of India under their control. Mogul architecture was the latest and ripest form of Indo-Islamic architecture continued to flourish till 18th century.

2. Islamic Architecture in Delhi under Slaves (1191-1246 C.E):

Dynastical Division:

Construction of Islam structures continued for over three and quarter centuries in Delhi and its surroundings which were built for emperors and by emperors of sultanate, hence it is called Imperial style or Delhi style. Beginning in the last years of 12th century, five Mohammedan Sultan dynasties have ruled northwestern region of India with the city of Delhi as capital city.

Indo-Islamic architecture at Delhi illustrates every stage of development of the style from the conversion of temples and its materials to build mosques and tombs in initial stages to the vast structures of Mogul emperors.

The name of slave here means, its members do not belong to royal community. They were slaves who can be bought or sold. Slave system is an accepted practice with the majority of Mohammedans of high rank.

Eastern Persian king Mohammed Ghuri appointed his slave Qutb-ud-din Aibak as governor to take care of his possessions around Delhi in 1191 C.E. Aibak belonged to a Turk family from central Asia. He was sold two times in his childhood and second time to Mahmud Ghuri.

Hindu Chauhan dynasty kings were ruling the kingdom of Delhi. Later after the death of Mohammed Ghuri, Qutb-ud-din Aibak played active political role and captured the Hindu stronghold of Qila-i-Rai pithaura in Delhi. He established his prominence in Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan and became the first Muslim ruler at Delhi. Qutb- ud-din and his son-in-law Shams-ud-din Altumush were the active patrons of building art. During this period Pandyas were ruling south India.

Early Structures:

The following are the important buildings built during this period:

1. Qutb Mosque, Delhi, 1195 C.E:

Mosque on a Temple Basement:

This is the first mosque building on the soil of India at Delhi built by Qutb-ud-din Aibak. The mosque is also called Kuwwat-ul-Islam (The power of Islam). This was commenced in 1195 C.E. The large temple within the fort of Qila-i-pithaura, Delhi was dismantled.

The stone basement of the temple was retained and enlarged to large size to accommodate the mosque. This covered an area of 65 metres long by 46 metres wide, the whole being enclosed by a wall and cloisters on all sides.

To provide ready dressed stone to this mosque, as many as 27 temples nearby were dismantled and the material thus obtained was used to build the mosque. The existing temples have become the quarries for the emerging new Islam structures.

Main Features:

The mosque consisted of a courtyard of some 43 metres by 32 metres surrounded by pillared cloisters three aisles deep. The arrangement of pillars on west or Mecca side of the court was more elaborated into a series of bays with shallow domed ceilings to form the sanctuary.

The short pillars of the temples are placed one above the other to secure necessary height. These pillars are beautiful in their details and show the carvings in most perfect Hindu style. And in front of the sanctuary in the courtyard the famous iron pillar brought from its original place near Mathura was stand erected.

Screen of Arches:

Later after some years, an expansive screen of arches was added across the entire front of the sanctuary to give mosque appearance. This formed into a great wall of masonry over 15 metres in height at the centre, its width 33 metres and thickness of 2.6 metres. This has five arched openings consisting of larger one in the centre and two lesser arches on either side.

Small arched openings were placed one each over the side arches giving an appearance of clerestory. But these do not have any specific purpose. They are only for void mass and beauty.

As a whole this screen of arches of red sandstone is by itself a noble conception. The pointed arches with their fine curves produced an effect of lightness in such a massive volume. By turning the curve of the arch upwards a slight ogee curve was made at the apex of the arch. The entire surface is covered with rich pattern of carving. But the upper parts of this screen of arches had fallen and some fragments remain now.

Now this Qutb mosque complex is UNESCO’s world heritage site.

2. Qutb Minar, Delhi, 1200 C.E:

Qutb-Minar is a victory tower and is a part of Kuwwat-ul-Islam mosque built at Delhi. After inspired by the minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, Qutb-ud-din wanted to build a mighty memorial tower to show his growing power.

Accordingly foundation was laid in the last year of 12th century for an immense and lofty tower Qutb-Minar, named after him. It became one of the most remarkable architectural monuments in India. This is still standing in its gracefulness.

The tower was placed in southeast place of Qutb mosque. This is the world’s tallest brick tower. Only the base of the tower could be completed during Aibak’s period. Altumush added three more storeys. Firuzshah Tughlaq completed the tower in 1386 C.E. Qutb-Minar suffered some damages by earthquakes. Repairs were undertaken during the course of time.


The tower is circular in plan. The base is 14 metres in diameter and it tapers to a width of 3 metres at the summit. This originally was raised to some 72.5 metres in height. On the north side it was entered through a doorway within which a stairway spirals its way to each balcony. The tower consisted of four storeys diminishing in size as they ascend. A projecting balcony divides each stage.

Each of its four stages is a different pattern in section:

i. Lowest stage has wedge shaped flanges alternating with rounded flutes

ii. Second stage has circular projections

iii. Third is star shaped with wedge-shaped projections

iv. Fourth is simply round and plain

Over the fourth tower a circular kiosk takes place with window openings. A domical cupola covers the kiosk.


The most artistic and elegant features of the monument are the balconies and the method of supporting them. The balconies are supported by means of cluster of miniature arches or small alcoves with brackets in between. The balustrade around the balconies took the form of stepped battlements or Merlons called Kanjuaras.

Decorative Elements:

The chief beauty of this structure lies in the strong colour of its red sandstone and its changing texture.

Further the following features have added great beauty to this structure:

i. Inscriptional bands

ii. Alternating surfaces of plain masonry and rich carvings

iii. Fine and intricate design of balconies and their shadows

As a whole Qutb minar is a most impressive production still standing gracefully in its solemnity.

3. Shams-Ud-Din Altumush’s Buildings:

Shams-ud-din Altumush the son-in-law of Qutb-ud-din ruled from 1211 to 1236 C.E has succeeded after Qutb- ud-din.

The important building works commissioned during this period were:

1. Addition of arched screen to Ajmer mosque

2. Extension to Qutb mosque, Delhi 1229 C.E

3. Shams-ud-din Altumush’s tomb, 1235 C.E

Extension to Qutb Mosque, Delhi, 1229 C.E:

The cloisters and the sanctuary of Qutb mosque were extended on both sides along with screen of arches doubling the entire complex. Here the cloisters are simply a plain copy and replica of the previous one. The screen also simply duplicates the existing range of arches only to a larger scale.

The change in the shape of the arches is that the ogee curve gave place to a simple arc and the curves are firmer and more divided than those of the earlier type. With this extension, the Qutb Minar, which was lying outside Qutb mosque enclosure, now has been brought inside the extended mosque.

4. Shams-Ud-Din Altumush’s Tomb, Delhi, 1235 C.E:

A new structure first of its kind in India is the tomb of Shams-ud-din Altumush situated outside Qutb mosque, Delhi at northwest corner. Almost this is the first tomb structure built in India sometime around 1235 C.E.


This is square in plan of 13 metres side with an entrance doorway in the centre of each side except on west, where three mihrabs inside were accommodated. The exterior surfaces are simple and plain. The interior cubical hall of 9 metres side is very elaborately carved and decorated with patterns and inscriptions of extracts from Quran with insertions in white marble. The cenotaph and the Mihrab were in marble.

Squinch Arch System:

The method of supporting the dome and its base in this tomb is the earliest and first attempt in India. The building is square and a domical roof is to be built over it. This requires a supporting system that converts the square to a circle. This was done by means of projecting an arch (squinch arch) at the angle of the square hall, thus making the square shape into an octagon. Here the Squinch takes the shape of a vault or half dome with an arch on its outer face.

Octagon was made into sixteen sided figure by means of brackets and then a circular base was built. The dome was built on the circular frame thus obtained. But the dome of this tomb was collapsed and probably it may be a shallow dome.

No prominent buildings were built after this for some time.

3. Islamic Architecture in Delhi under Khaljis (1290-1320 C.E):

After the death of Shams-ud-din Altumush of Slave dynasty in 1236 C.E, there were no prominent kings and no buildings were undertaken for about three quarters of a century. There was a gap in between the dynasties as there was no proper political leadership for some time.

Jalal-ud-din Khalji was governing the kingdom at Delhi. He was assisted by Alla-ud-din Khalji who hails from a village near Ghazni in Afghanistan. Alla-ud-din killed Jalal- ud-din and became independent king and ascended the throne in 1296 C.E.

Important Examples:

1. Alla-Ud-Din Khalji’s Extension to Qutb Mosque, Delhi:

1300 C.E Alla-ud-din further extended Qutb mosque already built earlier. The sanctuary of the mosque was extended on north and the cloisters were extended on north and east sides. By this the mosque became large in size.

Within the mosque in the spacious northern courtyard, a colossal Minar with its proportions double to that of Qutb minar was commissioned. Construction of such a grand and huge Minar could not be completed by the death of Alla-ud-din in 1316 C.E. This Minar was named as Alai minar after the name of Alla-ud-din. It rose up to nearly one storey where the work was stopped. The tower now remains solid as blunt tree trunk.

2. Alai Darwaja, Delhi, 1305 C.E:

A small building having been completely finished is the southern entrance structure to Alai mosque at Delhi. Extension done by Alla-ud-din to Qutb mosque here is named as Alai mosque. Darwaja means door in Hindi language.

Alai Darwaja is a self-contained Gateway built about the year 1305 C.E. This is one of the four entrances to Alai mosque, two of which to be on the long eastern side and one each on north and south sides. This is a cubical structure of 17 metres side in plan with a total height of over 18 metres up to the top of its domical finial. Though this is a small building, but the design is new and original.

Inspired by this, Ghiyas ud din Tughlaq’s tomb was built after some 20 years having similar features.


It consists of a square hall inside having a dome roof. Its circular rim was supported on Squinch arches built at each of four corners following the method of radiating Voussoirs, thus converting the square base into an octagon. The Squinch arch has taken the shape of a semi-vault made with mini semi-vaults in rows.


In their design the three outer faces of Alai Darwaja are much alike. Each contains a tall archway over a flight of steps leading to the interior. Below is a plinth elegantly carved in varied bands. The wall surface above the plinth is divided into two storeys. The two lower were built into arched recesses filled with perforated stone grilles. Above this the upper was carved into rectangular panels.

All this was well executed in a combination of red sandstone and white marble. The borders were finely decorated with arabesques and inlaid geometrical patterns. A shallow white marble dome rises above as a roof.

Central Arch:

The outstanding gracefulness of the façades lies in the shape of central arches. The arch is pointed horseshoe type. Around its outlines is a band of fine inscription carved in white marble. On its underside or intrados of the arch, there are fringe of sphere heads.

On either side of the arch two slender ornamental pillars took place, which have some fine carving on its shaft. The whole of this arch with its pillars was fitted in a rectangular frame bordered with repeating patterns and inscriptions in white marble.


The various qualities of Alai Darwaja are remarkable, particularly in the shape of arches, the method of walling, the system of support to the dome, the surface decoration, coloured texture and fringe of sphere heads in arches. All these were well executed in a combination of dressed sandstone and white marble.

Other Structures:

The other structures, which were built during this period are here listed which are now crumbled and broken pieces:

i. City of Siri, second of the seven cities of Delhi

ii. Alla-ud-din Khalji’s tomb

iii. Madarassa

iv. Jamaat khana masjid

4. Islamic Architecture in Delhi under Tughlaqs (1320-1413 C.E):

Out of many rulers of Tughlaq dynasty at Delhi, only three appear to have influenced the art of building.

These were:

i. The founder of the dynasty, Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq (1320 – 1325 C.E)

ii. His son Mohammed Bin Tughlaq (1325- 1351 C.E)

iii. Firuz shah Tughlaq (1351 – 1388 C.E)

Besides other important architectural undertakings, each added his own capital city to the two already existing at Delhi.

Architectural Characters:

Buildings of Tughlaqs developed strong building forms and elements and had influenced further future buildings.

The striking elements here are:

i. Battering walls

ii. Simple straight line arches

iii. Sphere heads in intrados of arches

iv. Projection of middle portion of wall on each face

v. Lintel and Arch combination

vi. Buildings of Sayyids, Lodis, Jaunpur and Malwa province structures built in 15th century showed the influence of Tughlaq dynasty architecture.

vii. First of the dynasty Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, an elder man and a soldier came to the throne and reigned for barely five years.

Important buildings built during this period are described here as follows:

Ghiyas-Ud-Din Tughlaq’s Buildings:

1. Tughlaqabad:

This took the form of a third city at Delhi known as Tughlaqabad. Standing on a highest point, this city is now totally in ruins, wild, lifeless and desolate. It is now huge masses of broken masonry.

Mohammed Bin Tughlaq’s City (1325 – 1351 C.E):

Mohammed Bin Tughlaq built the fourth city at Delhi enclosing the space between the first and second cities by means of fortified walls of prodigious thickness. Very little of this city and the walls remain now and it is all in ruins.

Firuz Shah Tughlaq’s Buildings (1351 – 1388 C.E):

Firuz shah has passionately devoted to building art. He built structures by using inexpensive materials and restored and repaired predecessors’ old monuments and replaced top floors of Qutub Minar in white marble damaged by lightening.

The following few structures are selected for description:

1. Firuzabad (the fortress of Firuz shah), Delhi, 1354 C.E

2. Khirki Masjid, Delhi, 1380 C.E

2. Tomb of Khan-i-jahan Tilangani, Firuzabad, Delhi, 1370 C.E

3. Tomb of Firuz shah Tughlaq, Delhi, 1388 C.E

Firuzabad, Delhi, 1354 C.E:

Firuz shah Tughlaq constructed a new palace fort at Delhi which is the fifth successive fort built at Delhi. Now it is called Kotla Firuz Shah. The remains of this city now show the amenities, necessities and fully equipped royal residences. It is adjacent to Yamuna River.

The fort is a rectangle of less than ¾ kilometre long by 1/3 kilometre broad. Its longer axis is running north south surrounded by high battlemented walls with tall spreading bastions at intervals. The main entrance is on western side consisting of a strongly fortified gateway.

The fort consists of the following structures:

i. Palaces:

On opposite side to the main gate across the width overlooking the river were the palaces, royal and private residences receiving pleasant air carried across the river water. The other area of the fort is divided into rectangular courts.

ii. Diwan-i-Am:

One of the large structures was the Diwan-i-Am or Hall of public audience with a spacious open quadrangle surrounded by pillared verandahs for transactions of official and court affairs.

iii. Jama Masjid:

Towards the centre and against the river was the Jama masjid, a large structure to accommodate ten thousand persons.

iv. Arcaded Terraces:

Another large structure occupying a prominent position is series of square arcaded terraces diminishing as they ascend to produce a kind of stepped pyramid, on the summit of which one of the Asoka’s famous pillar brought from Ambala was placed. The remainder was pavilions, grape and water gardens, baths, tanks, barracks, armoury and servants’ quarters all conveniently disposed.

Firuzabad is the most pulsating example. Similar fortresses were built by Moguls later inspired by this fort, especially the Red fort, Delhi.

5. Islamic Architecture in Delhi under Sayyids (1414-1451 C.E) and Lodis (1451-1526 C.E):

Delhi has suffered worst after the invasion of Timur and the sack of Delhi. During the course of time in 15th century and in the first quarter of 16th century C.E, under the rule of Sayyids and their successors the Lodis, no great buildings were undertaken.

No capital cities, imperial palaces or fortresses have been built except the tomb buildings. The founder of Sayyid dynasty was Khizar Khan and Buhlul Lodi was the founder of Lodi dynasty. South India was under the rule of Vijaynagar emperors during this time.

Period of Maqbarahs:

But however, the only monument that appealed to the rulers was the memorial structures to the dead. This was the period of Maqbarahs the cemeteries. Perhaps in no other time have the tomb buildings more raised than during the rule of Sayyids and Lodis. Scores of large tomb structures arose in the neighbourhood of Delhi. In the course of time the area around Delhi was converted into a vast necropolis.

No less than fifty sizeable and important tombs were found. They range from simple open pillared pavilions in which the cenotaph is exposed outside to imposing great structures standing in an enclosure entered by tall gateways with an addition of a mosque. Lodis introduced double dome built one above other leaving a gap in between.

Tughlaq dynasty architecture had much influenced the structures of Sayyids and Lodis.

Types of Tomb Structures:

The following two types of tomb structures were built:

1. Octagonal tomb structures

2. Square tomb structures

1. Octagonal Tomb Structures:

These buildings were one storey in height. They are surrounded by an arcaded verandah along with a projecting eave. Octagonal shape is a recognized design for royals and the square shape was meant for nobles and others of higher rank. The origin and the earlier octagonal mausoleum building was the tomb of Khan-i-Jahan Tilangani built during the reign of Tughlaq dynasty.

The average plan of an octagonal tomb building is one third larger in size and one third less in height approximately than the square tomb building.

2. Square Tomb Structures:

The other class of tomb buildings are square type tomb buildings built at Delhi. Square tomb building is a recognized design to the nobles and other persons of higher rank other than royals. These buildings are square in plan and had no verandahs. Out of many of such tombs some seven are larger and imposing in the neighbourhood of Delhi.

These structures hardly bear the names of those to whom they were built. Now they are called by local names. The word Gumbad used in the name of these structures denotes the dome. The exterior of these structures is in two or sometimes three storeys in height surmounted by a dome.


Inside, the building consists of a square room with sunken archways on all sides and that on the west contains a mihrab. At each corner of the square is a squinch arch above to support the dome.


The buildings had no sloping walls and were elevated in floors. The vertical middle portion of wall on each face is projected into a rectangle up to the height of the building similar to Firuz Shah Tughlaq’s tomb built at Delhi in 14th century C.E. A large recessed archway takes place in this projected wall. Within the arch is a doorway containing beam and bracket order. The upper storeys contain arched recesses each sunk in a rectangular panel with openings to allow light inside the hall. Parapets are solid merlon type.

The average size of the square tomb structure is one third less in plan and one third more in height than the octagonal tomb structures.

Important Examples:

1. Bada Khan ka Gumbad

2. Chota khan ka Gumbad

3. Shish Gumbad

4. Bara Gumbad

5. Tomb of Shihab-ud-din Tajkhan

6. Adi ka Gumbad

7. Poli ka Gumbad

The above structures are now standing isolated without any enclosure walls.

8. Isa khan tomb-This is an elegant building but slightly lacking in height. This is somewhat adjusted in the tomb of Adham khan. The intermediate storey and the dome were raised, which has 16 arched recesses skillfully adjusted. But the kiosks over the verandahs were not added.

Names of Important Mosque Structures:

The following are mosque structures built during this period:

i. Mosque attached to Bara Gumbad, 1494 C.E

ii. Moth ki Masjid, Delhi, 1505 C.E

iii. Jamali Masjid, Delhi, 1529 C.E


The Delhi or Imperial style of architecture of Sultans ends now paving a way to Mogul architecture.

6. Islamic Architecture of Provinces Bengal (1203-1573 C.E):

The architectural development at Delhi under Sultan rulers was described earlier. This development does not restrict only to the capital Delhi, but it took part in the outlying portions of the country i.e. in the provinces which are self-contained developments of great importance. Here the structures of remarkable beauty displaying original indigenous architectural characters were produced.

The influence of Imperial architecture of Delhi on the provincial style depended on the distance of the province from Delhi and the association of the rulers of the province with that of Delhi. Also this building art varied by the reasons like availability of local materials, building techniques and even climatic conditions.

These buildings were spread in different parts of the country.

Punjab province in Pakistan was also important where construction of tombs was initiated. The period of this province is from 1150 to 1325 C.E. The fine example of tomb built here is Tomb of Shah Rukn-i-Alam at Multan, 1324 C.E. But this province is not considered here for description as it is now in Pakistan.

Geographical and Political Position:

Bengal is a province situated far and remote on southeast side to Delhi. It is more a humid deltaic region of Ganga River with diversified life and activities. Earlier this was the seat of two Hindu dynasties of the Palas and the Senas with their capital at Lakhnauti. The Islamic conquest, penetration and occupation of this area took place in 1202 C.E.

Muhammad Bakhtiar Khilji, a Turkmenistan general of slave dynasty from Delhi Sultanate defeated Lakshman Sen of Sena dynasty and conquered Bengal. Bengal was ruled by feudalists under Delhi Sultanate. But the structures in this province are not much impressive or elegant. They are more solid and closed.

Art of construction here was different from the arid plains of Punjab. Majority of buildings were grouped in Malda District in West Bengal state in between the rivers of Ganga and Mahananda in the towns of Gaur and Pandua.


Dakhil Darwaja, Gaur, 1465 C.E:

This is a triumphal arch aligned to face the citadel of Gaur produced to the order of Barbak shah. This is also called Salami Darwaja situated in Malda district in West Bengal state. This is a remarkable and immense structure measuring nearly 23 metres wide in front and 34 metres from front to back with a height of 18 metres.

This has a central arched opening and a passage 7.3 metres high having guard rooms on each side. This bulk structure carries projections and recesses with prominent rounded bastion at each corner. This provides a deep and wide portico containing arched openings.

The circular bastions at the corners were built tapered and surmounted by rounded cupolas. The projections and recesses produced light and shade effect. The surfaces were enriched by ornamentation consisting of rosettes, hanging lamps, fretted borders, niches and other patterns. Most of the structure had fallen and is now unimpressive. The skyline shows the grouping of pyramidal roofs, domes and merloned parapets.

7. Islamic Architecture of Provinces – Jaunpur (1360-1480 C.E):

Geographical and Political Position:

Jaunpur was a large and important eastern strong hold of Delhi. Its governor was called by the title of Malikush- sharq (king of east) afterwards known as Sharqi dynasty. The city of Jaunpur stands on the river Gumti, some sixty kilometers northwest of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state. This was one of the strong capitals established by Firuz shah Tughlaq, the sultan of Delhi in the middle of 14th century.

Hence Jaunpur structures had some similar features of Tughlaq dynasty structures. But due to the enmity shown towards the Sharqi kings of Jaunpur by the Delhi sultan Sikander Lodi at the close of 15th century, many monuments of this dynasty were ruthlessly destroyed and mutilated.

Jaunpur state assumed independence after Timur’s invasion and capture of Delhi. Shams-ud-din Ibrahim had taken position at Jaunpur.

Centre for Literature and Arts:

Jaunpur became a resort for literature and variety of colleges. It became a university town. Arts and architecture were also encouraged. Hence in a course of short time the palaces, mosques and tombs have grown up.


The prominent structures were the mosques. Three important mosques are described here.

They are:

1. Atala masjid, Jaunpur, 1408 C.E

2. Lal Darwaza masjid, Jaunpur, 1450 C.E

3. Jama masjid, Jaunpur, 1470 C.E

8. Islamic Architecture of Provinces – Gujarat (1300-1550 C.E):

Geographical and Political Position:

The largest and important of the provincial styles is that of Gujarat in west India with its capital city at Ahmedabad. This development flourished in this area for a period of some 2 ½ centuries. Early in 14th century Gujarat was under the rule of Governors appointed by Khalji sultans of Delhi. Later it came under the independent rule of Ahmed Shahi dynasty. It was absorbed into the empire of Moguls in the second half of 16th century.

The contemporary rulers in south India were Hampi Vijayanagar emperors and Vijayanagar temples were under construction.

Much decorated and ornamented buildings were built during this period. The strong influence of Gujarat and Rajasthan Hindu craftsmanship are seen in these structures in the form of fine and intricate carvings.

The two causes for the development of good architecture here are:

i. Patronage and building ambitions of the rulers

ii. Artistic skills and building techniques of local craftsmen.


During early period, construction of Islamic buildings is in the formative and experimental stage. Hence the earlier structures built here have not yet attained a definite shape. The best example of the early period is the Jama masjid of Cambay (circa 1325 C.E).

Later the style progressed and attained perfection during the period of Ahmed Shah in 15th century. The finest example of this period is the Jama masjid at Ahmedabad.

The same vigour was carried in 16th century during the power and patronage of the ruler Mahmud Begarha (1458 to 1511 C.E) and his successors. The typical and important example of this period is the Jama masjid at Champaner.

These three mosque structures are described here under:


i. Ahmed shah’s royal chapel mosque within the citadel, 1411 C.E

ii. Haibatt Khan’s mosque, Ahmedabad, 1412 C.E

iii. Sayyid Alam’s mosque, Ahmedabad, 1412 C.E

iv. Sidi Sayyid’s mosque, Ahmedabad, 1515 C.E famous for its shaking minarets

v. Rani Rupmati’s mosque, Mirzapur 1440 C.E

vi. Rani Sipri mosque, 1505 C.E


i. Tomb of Ahmed Shah, 1440 C.E

ii. Rauza of Rupamati, Ahmedabad, 1440 C.E

9. Islamic Architecture of Provinces-Malva (1405-1569 C.E):

Geographical and Political Position:

Malwa region exists towards the west centre of the country, having connections with two cities of Dhar and Mandu situated in Madhya Pradesh state. Dhar was the ancient capital city for several centuries during the early mediaeval period under the stronghold of Paramaras, a Hindu powerful dynasty.

It was conquered by Delhi Sultan Alia ud din Khalji in 1305 C.E. After the decline of power in Delhi by the sack of the city by Timur, Ghuri governor Dilawar Khan declared himself as Shah and Mandu as independent state. His son Hushang Shah shifted the capital to Mandu from Dhar. The Ghuri dynasty invaded and established their hold in Malwa.

Design and Construction:

As the political relations with neighbouring rulers were not amicable, hence Malwa rulers had imported and depended on imperial capital Delhi for construction designs and artisans. Hence the buildings of Malwa region are more similar to the buildings of Khaljis, Tughlaqs and Lodis of Imperial Delhi.

The features of the buildings are:

i. The battering walls

ii. Pointed arch decorated with spearhead fringe

iii. Arch-lintel-bracket combination

iv. Pyramidal roof

v. High raised plinths

vi. Long and stately flight of steps leading to entrances.

Use of Colours:

A striking feature found in these buildings is the use of colours. Coloured stones, coloured marble and tiles were used for colour effect. The principal material employed here was red sandstone. Strong and harmonious colours in borders and panels are applied throughout the buildings. Glazed earthen ware was the flourishing industry at Mandu in 15th century.

Probably the craftsmen might have got connections with earthenware industries of Multan, Punjab where the earthenware and brick industries were flourished earlier. Due to various causes these colours are now disappeared, except some few patches.

Later the capital was moved from Dhar to Mandu some 33 kilometres away from Dhar.

Names of Important Structures:

These structures denote the prominent architectural features similar to Imperial structures of Delhi.

But the roofs are collapsed:

i. Ashrafi mahal

ii. Mausoleum of Hushang Shah

iii. Hindola mahal

iv. Jahaz mahal—120 metres long ship palace built between two lakes

v. Shahzadi-ka-Rauza at Chanderi

10. Islamic Architecture of Provinces – The Deccan-Gaulbarga (1347-1422 C.E) Bidar (1422-1512 C.E) Golconda (1512-1687 C.E):

The Deccan area refers to the country towards south covering the dominions of Karnataka state and Nizam state areas in the present Andhra Pradesh state. The building art having a definite character began here after the Delhi Sultans occupied this territory in 14th century and it continued up to 17th century until it was absorbed into Mogul empire.

Exotic People and Importing Architecture:

The rulers of Deccan have ignored the presence of existing art of the country, which they occupied. They proceeded to produce an original and independent style of their own. The building art here consisted of two styles, one is the forceful influence from Delhi and the other entirely a distant source from the country of Persia.

The influence of Delhi architecture is due to Sultan Mohammed Bin Tughlaq’s forced migration of inhabitants of Delhi to the new capital of Daulatabad in 1340. The exodus of masons, artisans, workmen and their successors laid foundations to Deccan architecture.

The Islam rulers who were migrated from Afghanistan, Persia and Turkey were settled permanently in India. But they look instinctively towards their motherland for solutions. Hence military adventurers, engineers, artisans and skilled workmen came in Arab ships from Persian Gulf to the lands of western India. There were strong overseas travels mainly the Persians to this Deccan capital.

The first independent ruler of the Deccan was a Persian adventurer from the court at Delhi, Alla-ud-din Hasan Bahman shah who served as an official under Mohammed Bin Tughlaq who established Bahman dynasty at Gulbarga, in Karnataka state in 1347 C.E.

The Deccan area resolves into three periods according to the capital city of administration.

Division of the Three Periods:

A. Gulbarga:

The first period was from 1347 C.E when the city of Gulbarga was founded under Bahman dynasty rulers.

B. Bidar:

The second period begins from 1422 C.E when the capital was transferred to the city of Bidar. This was first ruled by Bahman shahis and later by Barid shahi kings.

C. Golconda:

The third period starts from 1512 C.E from the city of Golconda under Qutb shahi kings until 1687 till the country was conquered by Moguls.

Architecture developed under these three periods is described here capital city wise.

A. Gulbarga, 1347 to 1422 C.E:


Alla-ud-din Bahman after thrown off his loyalty to Delhi established his capital at Gulbarga situated in Karnataka state in 1347 C.E. He immediately commissioned the fortress buildings. Most of the structures of this fort were disappeared and the remains show that it was an example of military architecture and is immensely strong. Within the fortress is the Jama masjid which is now intact.

Tombs of Gulbarga:

The other structures at Gulbarga are the royal tombs of the rulers seven in number including the tomb of the founder. These are known as Haft Gumbaz or seven domes.

B. Bidar, 1422 to 1512 C.E:


The capital was shifted from Gulbarga to Bidar in Karnataka state by Ahmed shah (1422 to 1436 C.E), the ninth ruler of the dynasty.

The chief building productions are:

i. Fortress, Palaces,

ii. Two mosques within the fort,

iii. Madarassa (college)

iv. Royal tombs.


i. Fortress at Bidar:

The fortress at Bidar is larger than the Gulbarga fort.

The imperial buildings within the fort are:

i. Mahals or palaces,

ii. Rang mahal or painted palace- a large structure with coloured decoration

iii. Zenana mahal- a fine edifice

iv. Takt mahal or throne room, also called Durbar hall or Diwan-i-am or Public audience hall

Other amenities within this fort were:

i. Water palaces,

ii. Tank,

iii. Fountains besides ornamental gardens,

iv. Hammams- the bathing areas of large and luxurious kind with running water facility

ii. Madarassa, Bidar, 1481 C.E:

A building of exotic character is the Madarassa, or college found by Mahmud Gawan, a Persian scholar and minister under Mohammed shah III in 1472 AD. This is an Islam college built with complete lecture halls, library, mosque, and accommodation for teachers and students.

The design of this stately college building is an inspired replica of the buildings at Samarkhand. This covers a rectangle of 62 metres by 55 metres. It has a quadrangle in the centre and the halls and chambers surround it. In the middle of three sides are semi-octagonal projections rising up and surmounted by Tartar domes.

While on fourth side is the main entrance and has two tall minars in three stages one at each corner. The building is in three storeys with arched window openings and overall above is the parapet.

The surfaces are well treated with brilliant coloured glazed tiles. There are many inlaid decorations in patterns, floral, conventional and arabesques. Colours of green, yellow and white are predominant. Other part of the building was finished in plaster coating.

iii. Tombs:

The other monuments at Bidar are the tomb structures of the rulers. They are twelve in number and all are of same type. These are large square buildings with tiers of arched arcades in walls and three turrets at each corner. Above the center rises an octagonal drum on which a massive stilted dome stands.

C. Golconda, 1512 to 1687 C.E:


The last place of Deccan architecture was from the city of Golconda situated near the city of Hyderabad in present state of Andhra Pradesh under Qutb shahi dynasty from 1512 to 1687 C.E.

Qutb Shahis were Shia muslims belonged to a tribe from Turkmenistan in Armenia region. Sultan Quli Qutb ul Mulk was the founder of the dynasty. Golconda became a rich and powerful state at that time. This is the first Muslim rule in Telugu speaking state of Telangana region. The ruling continued up to 1948 till the state joined in Indian nation.

The important structures of this period are scattered within the fortified city of Golconda and some in Hyderabad. Most structures are now ruined and deserted. A distinct style of architecture is seen in mosques and tomb structures. Important examples are described here.


1. Golconda Fort:

The fort was built by Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah Wali, fourth king of the dynasty. Earlier this was under the control of Hindu Kakatiya kings in 12th century. Golconda is a hill of 120 metres high.

It was surrounded by massive ramparts and had splendid built areas and palaces all built in massive stone walls. The fort is highly defensive and has a special kind of acoustical system by which the claps from a spacious portico are audible at the royal palace on the cliff some 100 metres away. But most of this is now in ruins.

2. Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad, 1694 C.E:

The largest and oldest mosque of Hyderabad is Mecca masjid located near Charminar. It was begun by Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah in 1597 and was completed by Aurangzeb. It is believed that some bricks brought from Mecca were used in construction of arches. Hence it is called Mecca masjid.

The mosque has mainly a huge sanctuary hall and a large front open court containing a large artificial water pool having fountains. The sanctuary measures 67 metres long, 55 metres deep and 23 metres high. The sanctuary façade contains five huge size 4 centered pointed arches. The hall can accommodate some 10000 persons at a time. Holy text from Quran has been depicted on the arches.

Names of other important mosque structures:

i. Mushirabad mosque, Hyderabad

ii. Toli masjid, Hyderabad which is small but well finished

2. Qutb-Shahi Tombs:

There are a group of tombs located in Ibrahim Bagh situated to the North West side of the Golconda fort at Hyderabad. These monuments are some seven royal tombs, while others are of the members of the royal family within the vicinity. All the tomb buildings are square in plan and finished in plaster.

All are much in same type of design. Some large tombs are in two storeys. The tomb building consists of an inner mortuary chamber (cenotaph) and a surrounding arcaded verandah of one storey. The cornices of verandah are supported on brackets. This gave much effect to the exterior of the building.

The mortuary chamber was built in two storeys. The lower storey was covered by a curved ceiling. Over this the upper storey rises into the drum and dome visible externally. Thus a large void was left above the ceiling and under the dome.

Decorative Elements:

These structures display decorative elements like:

i. Moulded patterns,

ii. Ornamentation in stucco,

iii. Fanciful pinnacles.


Tomb of Abdullah Qutb Shah, 1672 C.E:

This is an immense royal tomb built near Golconda fort in Ibrahim Bagh in Hyderabad. It is a square building of two storeys having a mortuary chamber and an arcaded verandah. Verandah is one storeyed containing fine row of arches surrounded by bracketed cornice.

Mortuary chamber is covered by a curved ceiling and over this the drum and the dome were built leaving a great unused void in between. Its upper portion surrounded by a hanging balcony. The pleasing architectural elements of this tomb are the perforated panels, merlons and numerous finials.

Other such notable tomb structures are:

i. Mohammed Quli Qutb shah

ii. Hayat Bakshi Begum

Charminar, 1591 C.E:

Charminar is neither a mosque nor a tomb. It is a triumphal monument built in 1591 C.E. Undoubtedly this is a remarkable structure built by Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah, 5th ruler of Qutb Shahi dynasty. Charminar means four towers. This was built in the centre of crossing of two royal avenues, i.e. in the center of four road junction.

It is a symmetrical pavilion structure looking same on all sides and is square in plan measuring 30 metres side with chamfered corners. A minar (tower) raises one at each corner rising up to 57 metres in height. On the ground it is a large square hall having rooms at all corners accommodating spiraling stairs rising into the tower.

The hall is roofed by a vault supported on intersecting of arches, which are skillfully planned and executed. The hall is open on four sides by means of a huge size pointed arch joining into vaults inside. At the top of the hall a circular surrounding balcony opens into the hall, to which access is made from the four towers through door openings. The vaulted roof of the hall is made flat on its top accommodating a mosque at that height.

The façade consists of four huge archways, one on each side spanning 11 metres. Especially noticeable are the minars, which diminish in size stage by stage while they ascend. Its storeys are demarcated by projecting balconies at intervals having arcaded parapets. The minars have arched window openings ventilating the tower inside. Hemispherical cupolas crown these minars. Entire building was finished in thick plaster coat.

The following architectural elements made the structure strong, stupendous and graceful:

i. Four-centered pointed arches with slight ogee curve

ii. Soaring minars

iii. Graceful row of arches in upper floor

iv. Bracket supports.

11. Islamic Architecture of Provinces – Bijapur (1490-1656 C.E):

Geographical and Political Position:

Bijapur province situated in northern Karnataka state. This is relatively a province established late. It stands on gently rising ground without any natural protection.

Bijapur came under the supremacy of Adil Shahis. Yousuf Adil Shah was the founder of the dynasty. Adil Shahis have much influenced Architecture and allied arts. Within the limited area of this city, there are the remains of scores of structures of high importance and artistic excellence.

These buildings are of three kinds numbering to over fifty examples:

i. Mosques

ii. Tombs

iii. Fortress

Design and Construction:

Well developed and elegant structures were built in Bijapur. A definite and different order of construction principles are seen in these structures. The planning, structural system, the piers, elevation elements, applied decoration were all well in marked dignity and maturity. The solutions were indigenous mixed with past experience of construction.

Architectural beauty and utility are achieved through structural elements. The spacious arches, the clerestory, the domes, intersecting arches were all both structural and architectural elements. Here the buildings were finished in plaster.


The pillars are rare. Their place was substituted by substantial masonry piers, usually rectangular in section.

Shape of Arches:

The arch here is distinctive. It has lost the angularity and the ogee outline of the early prototype. The typical Bijapur arch is of four-centered variety.

Cornice and Brackets:

The most remarkable feature in the facades is the inclined cornice or chajja. It is supported on closely set decorated brackets, catching dark shadows.

Intersection of Arches Method:

The halls are square and a dome is to be placed over the square hall. The dome requires a circular base as a support. For this a device of converting the square into a circle by means of corner vaults is required. This was done by means of squinch arches in the structures at Delhi.

But in Bijapur structures, this is made by means of intersection of arches. As the walls rose in height, the square was made to change to an octagon and then to a circle. This was achieved by arranging each arch, so that its feet stood within the sides of the square, but its plane of arch stands at an angle. The intersection above produced an eight-sided figure from which a circular frame was made.

This is further described here in detail. If one side of a square is divided into three equal parts, it gives two points on each side. Such division on four sides of the square gives total eight points. A square is formed by joining the first consecutive points. Another square is formed by joining the second consecutive points.

Arches rise above from each side of these two squares making a total of eight arches. The intersections of these eight arches make an octagon above. Additionally long narrow pointed arches like Gothic arches were also formed by this intersection. The volume behind these arches was filled to make vaults. By this a solid vaulted base is made above to place the dome. All the superstructure loads are transmitted to the ground through vault and arch legs.

Geometrical use of square to form a stellate (star) plan in the temples of Hoysala period during 11th to 13th century was already well in practice in Karnataka. Such experiences might have helped in making the design of intersection of arches.


In the average buildings the dome is spherical in shape and rises out of a band of conventional petals at its base. The same spherical domes were repeated to small scale in the turrets as an ornamental finish. The spherical dome rising from petals is like Kalasha, i.e. a coconut placed over lotus in a Kalasha.

Symbol of Crescent:

Adil Shahi kings of Bijapur claimed to be of Turkish origin. Hence accordingly the symbol of crescent appeared on the finials of their monuments.


The embellishments are either carved in stone or moulded in stucco.

They are:

i. Medallion in the spandrels

ii. Rosettes

iii. Conventional hanging lamps

iv. Running borders.

1. Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur, C.1615 C.E.:

This is the mausoleum of Ibrahim Adil Shah I (1580 to 1627 C.E) situated outside the city of Bijapur on the west. This consists of two buildings, a tomb and a mosque standing within an enclosure of 137 metres square. The buildings are more ornate, perfect and moderate in size.

Within the walled enclosure these two buildings stand on an oblong platform of 110 metres by 46 metres. The tomb was placed on eastern side and the mosque on western side. The open court in between was developed into an ornamental tank and fountain. The tomb building is more impressive out of these two. The buildings were finished in plaster coat.


The interior is an arrangement of double arcade around the central chamber with a row of pillars within the arched verandah. Every portion of the outer wall of the tomb chamber is profusely embellished with carvings. Each wall of the tomb chamber has three shallow arches enclosed by borders and panels.

At each of the corner are finely ornamented piers. The surfaces are finished with arabesques, repeating patterns and tracery inscriptions. All these designs are distinctive and the artisans have created a whole series of new designs.

Tomb Chamber:

The tomb chamber is a small room of 5.5 metres square, to which a graceful and coffered ceiling was added giving a fine appearance. A hanging ceiling was built using great structural techniques. The ceiling was well devised by means of masonry being joggle-jointed and hence it shows no visible supports. The dome was built above this ceiling, leaving a large void in between.

The whole work whether structural, technical, ornamental or utilitarian was carried out most meticulously.


The mausoleum building is usual in its plan comprising a central chamber with encircling arcaded verandah. The façade consists of seven arches in which two of the arches are narrower than the others which are skillfully adjusted, thus presenting a variety in the voids. The same space alteration was carried in the parapet and ornamental finial, presenting a pleasing uniformity.

Tall turrets rise from each corner. Wide projecting cornice supported on ornamental brackets had added much beauty to the building. The crowning glory is the shapely bulbous dome carried on elaborately bracketed and battlemented upper storey.


The mosque building is an associate structure within the mausoleum enclosure. It corresponds in mass and architectural treatment to the tomb building and disposed in perfect harmony with the tomb and with the whole composition.

2. Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur, 1660 C.E:

A great monument in Bijapur is the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil shah II (1627 to 1657 C.E) normally called Gol Gumbaz means Round dome. This is the largest and most remarkable mausoleum ever constructed. The building is larger than Pantheon, Rome. The dome is second largest pre modern masonry dome after S. Sophia, Constantinople. Construction of such large dome was remarkable and adventurous. It took many years for construction. It was built in dark grey basalt rock and finished in plaster work. The height of entire building is some 61 metres.

Other such higher structures built earlier are:

i. Sikhara of Brihadeswara temple, Thanjavur, 1010 C.E- 60 metres high

ii. Sikhara of Jagannath temple, Puri, 1100 C.E- 61 metres high

iii. The surfaces of Gol Gumbaz structure are severely plain both inside and outside. This is a square building with chamfered corners.

The other buildings within the walled enclosed are:

i. A mosque

ii. A Naqqar khana or Drum house

iii. A Dharmasala or Rest house

iv. A Gateway

v. Other amenities associated with mausoleum

The building is vast in size but its architectural forms are simple.


The interior is only one large chamber of majestic proportions and is the largest chamber in India. Tall pointed arches formed the sides. Intersection of arches gave support to the circular platform above and over which the dome was placed. It has underground chambers possessing the main cenotaph. There are no pillars inside. A 3.5 metres wide gallery projects in the hall all round at a height of 33.5 metres at the periphery of dome.


Externally the building is a large cube with a tower placed at each corner. The main wall surface of the building is solid consisting of three shallow arches of elegant shapes sunk in each wall. The central arch is wider in size divided into panels to reduce it to the size of a normal doorway.

The projecting octagonal towers at each angle are striking in appearance. They are vertical and no slanting in walls. These towers are divided into seven tiers. All of them are of same size with small arched openings and above each tower is a hemispherical graceful domical kiosk having carved leaves at its base.

The other supplementary elements are:

i. Fine projecting cornice supported on closely set brackets catching deep dark shadows

ii. Above this is the arcade of small arches

iii. Ornamental parapet

iv. Bold foliations at the base of the dome

A large hemispherical dome stands on top in the center. The proportions of the square mass below and the rounded dome above have achieved excellent appearance. The dome has no complex curves. It is simple like an inverted bowl.


Intersection of arches method- The square base of the chamber was converted into eight-sided figure by means of an innovative construction method of intersection of arches. The dome is set back by some 3.6 metres from the edge of the circle, so that its weight is transmitted directly downwards on to the walls and a circular balcony is formed inside. The dome is only one layer of thick masonry and hence its appearance is same inside and outside.

Construction of Dome:

The dome is a plain plastered vault with six small openings at the drum. It was built of horizontal courses of brick with a thick layer of mortar between each course. The average thickness of masonry is three metres. It seems that in the construction of this vast cupola no formwork was used except for the central section near the crown. It was built by a system of over sailing courses of brickwork laid in lime.

The technique of supporting the dome by means of intersection of arches is surprising. This construction technique definitely was indigenous. There are six openings at the base of the dome giving way into the gallery.

Size and Scale:

The mausoleum unquestionably is one of the finest structural triumphs of the Bijapur builders on account of its magnificent size and proportions. The total external width of one of its square sides is equal to the entire height of the building, which is about 61 metres and outside diameter of the dome is 44 metres.

The hall measures 41 metres side and is 54 metres high, while the gallery is 33.5 metres from the pavement. The hall covers an area of some 1700 square metres and the Pantheon of Rome measures 1472 square metres only. Hence this mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah may claim to be the largest domical building in existence.

As a whole, this monumental mausoleum is a grand production, creating awe and amazement by means of its bulk and immense scale. The architectural elements like arches, cornices, arcades, foliated parapets and fluted drum were all harmoniously combined and disposed in an effective manner.

3. Mihtar Mahal, Bijapur, 1620 C.E:

Though this building is called Mihtar Mahal, it is not a Mahal or a palace. It is a small remarkable entrance structure to the courtyard of a mosque. It appears to have been built about 1620 C.E during the reign of Ibrahim Adil shah II.

This has an upper storey and an open terrace above it, surrounded by a wall with oriel windows and perforated parapet. The façade contains two slender buttresses rising up into graceful turrets. The outstanding feature is the window, its balcony projected on brackets and shaded by an eave.

The other architectural elements all intricately well rendered are:

i. Doorway of pointed arch recessed within a rectangle

ii. Buttresses

iii. String courses and mouldings.

The stone in this building is handled and treated skillfully as if it is plastic clay.

12. Islamic Architecture of Provinces-Kashmir from 1410 C.E:

Kashmir’s position and situation is different with respect to its geography, resources and climate. It is situated far in north India. It is bordered by present day Pakistan on west, China on north and east and India on south. It is mountainous situated at high altitude and filled with thick green forests. Natural resources like water, timber and stone are abundant. Its high altitude made the climate too cool and chilled. For most of the year the mountains are filled with ice and snow. It is described as heaven on earth.

The population is less when compared to plain areas of India. As the country is bounded in mountains, hence movement of people is not easy and is restricted. It may be the reason that it was not much influenced by the developments taking place outside Kashmir. The early people of Kashmir were Hindus. There was the influence of outsiders on this part of the country.

Design and Construction:

The structures of Kashmir are different from the rest of areas of India. Though the early structures in Kashmir were built in stone, but timber replaced stone in later structures. Kashmir presents contrasting characters of architecture by the use of two materials of wood and stone.

In the first millennium here, the Buddhist and Hindu period flourished with stone structures. But in the middle period it is all timber constructions. But Mogul emperors turned back to stone structures in Kashmir as they were already well experienced and habituated in building stone structures at Delhi and Agra.

Use of Timber:

Timber is available and is used much as it is suitable to the cool climate to keep insides warm. The matter of economy of material did not arise as it is available plenty. Single tree trunks were employed in case of pillars. A variety of Cedar and Deodar are mainly used. The logs were floated and transported down the rivers.

Timber Bridges:

A simplest method of log construction was found in a series of bridges, which span the river Jhelum in Srinagar, the capital city of Kashmir state. Several of these bridges are still built on cantilever principle. The practice was in existence for many hundreds of years.

The main supports or piers take the form of a massive wooden structure, resembling an inverted pyramid with its truncated apex resting on masonry platform. Each pier is built up of layers of logs in alternate courses placed transversely at right angles. It was a pile up of timber logs. The timber bridges are called kadals.

Construction Method:

Timber buildings were produced on the same lines, but refined and elaborated to suit their appearance. Logs are made to square section. The spaces between each course filled with neat brickwork on glazed tiles. In the interiors, these spaces are converted into recesses, for their use as lockers or cupboards. There is no good knowledge of woodwork or of the joinery. Simple dovetail joint is occasionally found.

The logs are fastened to one another by stout wooden pin. There are no struts, trusses or diagonal members to secure lateral rigidity. The sole system is that of the dead weight bearing directly downwards. Due to these unscientific methods, the structures frequently collapsed. Also they were destroyed by fire. Hence little of the original structures remain. Most of them contain later replacements. The basement of masonry, the upper portion in wood and brick are the characteristics of Kashmir Islamic structures as a whole.


1. Mosques and Tombs:

These structures were built in brick and wood. The timber structures and the tombs are called Ziarats. Both mosques and Ziarats are same type in their architectural elements.

The main elements are three in number, consisting of:

i. Lower cubical portion or main body of the building containing a hall or a chamber,

ii. A pyramidal roof in tiers.

iii. Slender spire above the whole.

Names of Examples:


i. Mosque of Shah Hamadan, Srinagar

ii. Jama masjid, Srinagar, 15th cent. C.E

iii. Hazratbal mosque, 17th cent.


i. Zain-ul-Abidin’s mother’s tomb

ii. Pir Haji Mohammed sahib’s tomb

2. Moguls’ Stone Buildings:

Mogul emperors forced their efforts to revive the art of stone building in Kashmir in 16th and 17th centuries. The design of these Mogul structures was that which was flourishing at that time at Delhi and Agra. The Kashmir workmen lost the art of handling the stone, as they were accustomed to work only in wood. Hence the emperor Akbar was compelled to import two hundred Indian master builders to carry out his projects as per an inscription.

The following are the three buildings all built in grey limestone, available in the nearby area:

i. Fort of Hari parbat (Green Mountain)

ii. Pattar masjid (Stone mosque), 1623 C.E.

iii. Mosque of Akhun Mullah Shah, 1649 C.E.

The fort built on the peak of the hill of Hari parbat (Green Mountain) is usual in its design and much of it was recent replacement. The two gateways, the Kathi Darwaja, and the Sangin Darwaza are of the original Mogul period. The other buildings show the style in temperate manner with minimum decoration.

The masonry buildings, whether in stone or brick are impositions only to satisfy the alien rulers. These intruding productions did not make any mark on the indigenous style of using timber. It continued its course uninterrupted and unaffected.

13. Islamic Architecture during the Rule of Sher Shah Sur, Sasaram and Delhi (1530-1545 C.E):

Geographical and Political Position:

Sasaram is a small town in the Shahabad district of Bihar state. Sher Shah came to power and established his independent kingdom at Sasaram. In 1539 C.E he defeated Humayun in a battle and captured the throne at Delhi. He consolidated his kingdom from Punjab to Bengal. Sher Shah’s original name was Farid Khan. He was a Pahyan from Afghanistan. He introduced new administrative, economic and welfare schemes some of which were continued by Moguls later.

He reigned for about fifteen years from 1530 C.E. Such a limited period generally cannot mark any effect on architecture. But Shershah had been an outstanding and experienced, hence decisive buildings were the outcome.

There are two stages in which Shershah had played his powerful role:

1. The early role was at the lower province at Sasaram, where mausoleums were built.

2. The second stage is at Delhi, after seizing the throne at Delhi from the Mogul emperor Humayun.

Structures at Sasaram:

It presents a group of three tombs belonging to the ruling family and a memorial to the architect Aliwal khan, who built these. Here, it is ridiculous and strange that the finest example of Lodi type of tomb was produced not at Delhi, but on this relatively remote site in the province, some 750 kilometres distant.

Shershah’s tomb at Sasaram though is a monument in a province, but it is far superior to the structures built at the capital Delhi. This is due to the reason that the ruling power at Delhi approaching its decline and on the other hand, Shershah Sur showed his great vigour and courage throughout his brief career.

These buildings were built under the supervision of the master builder Aliwal khan who trained in Imperial tradition. His first commission at Sasaram was the construction of the tomb of Hasan Sur Khan, father of Shershah, about 1535 C.E.

Structures at Delhi:

Shershah seated on the throne at Delhi in 1540 C.E, after seizing the empire from the Mogul king Humayun. Immediately he proceeded to build a new fort, which is now known as Purana Qila or old fort. This is more a concentration of military and palatial structures mostly ruined now. Within this fort a Royal chapel Qila-i-kuhna masjid was built.


Qila-I-Kuhna Masjid, Delhi, 1545 C.E:

A prime example and a gem of architecture is Qila-i-kuhna masjid, the royal chapel of Sur rulers built within Purana Qila at about 1545 C.E. This mosque is much like Jamala Masjid, Delhi built some 15 years earlier during the reign of Humayun.


The mosque contains only the sanctuary and occupies an oblong of 48 metres by 14 metres with a total height of 20 metres. Private entrances on north and south sides are for the use of royal family. Interior of the structure has five bays of elegant arches, broad mouldings and plastic ornamentation on the Qibla wall. T

he bays are roofed by low dome which has finely modeled squinch arches at the corners. Interior shows striking lines and curves in recessed arches, mihrabs and squinch arches.


The mosque facade is novel in its arrangements. The facade has five archways. The central arch was sunk within an arch fitted in a rectangular frame. Over the nave is the single layer Lodi dome. Each arch gives access to a long hall divided into five bays by lateral arches.

To add varied colours, the sandstone surfaces are enriched with inlay patterns of coloured and white marble. The fine and most pleasing elements are the oriel windows placed over main façade arches. There are two substantial stair turrets one at each rear angle.

Vaulted Roof:

This shows the great imagination of builders.

The construction methods employed in building the roof are:

i. The Squinch arches to support the dome in the central bay

ii. Stalactite variety in the next bay

iii. And cross-rib and semi-vault in the end compartment.


The mihrabs in each bay are the finest variety; the elegance of which cannot be described in words. It is the finest combination of recessed arches and vaulted niches contained within each other with decorative imposts. Unquestionably Qila-i-kuhna mosque is one of the finest productions without a parallel to it.


The architectural productions of Shershah Sur are so extra-ordinary in their design and fineness of embellishments, that the credit goes much to the emperor that within a limited period, such fine structures were mastered and built both at Sasaram and Delhi.

14. Islamic Architecture during Mogul Period-Babur (1526-1531 C.E) Humayun (1531-1556 C.E):

The imperial rule of Sultans at Delhi had declined and Moguls captured Delhi and began to assume control over Northern India. Zahir ud din Mohammad Babur was the founder of Mogul dynasty. He was the descendant of Chenghis Khan and Timur from Mangolia. The word Mogul is the changed form of Mangolia to Magol or Mogul. Moguls were Sunny Muslims. They entered into India through Khyber Pass.

Moguls were passionate towards buildings, which resulted in construction of great buildings. The building art in North India has attained its supreme form under the patronage of Moguls.

Excellent buildings were built during this period and the factors responsible for this are:

i. Wealth and power of the empire

ii. Settled conditions prevailing in the country and surroundings

iii. Aesthetic nature of Mogul rulers themselves.

The five rulers of Mogul dynasty responsible for flourishing of building art of this period after Babur were:

i. Humayun

ii. Akbar

iii. Jahangir

iv. Shah Jahan

v. Aurangzeb.

During the early years of Mogul rule, the country was in unsettled condition. Babur’s ruling is a short period of five years and hence no remarkable buildings were built. Moreover Shershah Sur, an Afghan usurper has expelled Humayun away from Delhi to live in Persia for fifteen years.

The following are the mosques built in 1526 C.E during Babur’s period:

i. Mosque in Kabuli Bagh at Panipat.

ii. Jama masjid at Sambhal in Moradabad district in Uttar Pradesh, which was Sikandar Lodi’s provincial capital.

Mogul architecture may be divided into two phases:

i. Red Sandstone Phase:

The first phase in which the buildings were principally constructed in red sandstone during the reign of Humayun and Akbar.

ii. Marble Phase:

The second phase, when white marble was largely employed to the luxury taste of Shah Jahan. The important building of this period is Humayun’s tomb built at Delhi around 1565 C.E.

15. Islamic Architecture during Mogul Period-Akbar (1556-1605 C.E):

Jalal ud din Mohammad Akbar ascended the throne in 1556 C.E at the age of 13, when his father Humayun died. He keenly studied the local traditions, Hindu culture and grew into a most powerful and ideal emperor. Akbar became a man of culture, wisdom and sense of fairness. His political vision, policies and principles are democratic and encouraged indigenous practices.

Akbar’s empire was the largest after Asoka. He lived in Red fort at Agra in early years and established his rule at Agra, as the capital city. He built great architectural monuments which were unparalleled.

Design and Construction:

A settled form of building art emerged and developed into a significant architectural style in India during Akbar’s reign. The buildings were mainly built in red sandstone readily available nearby. Important elements were emphasized by insertions in white marble for the purpose of beauty and clarity.

Construction was mainly trabeated style and the Tudor arch was used as decorative element. The dome was of Lodi type in the early period. The pillars are many- sided carrying bracket capitals. Carved designs, inlaid patterns, painted designs were introduced in the interior walls and ceilings.

Fine buildings were produced during the reign of Akbar.

The important buildings are as follows:

1. Fort at Agra, 1566 C.E

2. Fort at Lahore, 1575 C.E

3. Fort at Allahabad, 1583 C.E

4. Capital city of Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, 1565-80 C.E

Secular Structures:

These buildings are meant for emperor, his family members and other connected royals. Hence this is more a secured zone.

The buildings are:

i. Palaces

ii. Administrative buildings

iii. Miscellaneous buildings

These are spacious buildings connected by paved paths, terraces and corridors.

These are briefly described here under:


The following are the Residential Palace buildings:

1. Jodh Bai’s palace

2. Mariam’s house

3. Sultana’s house

4. Birbal’s house

5. Panchmahal.

Administrative Buildings:

1. Diwan-I-Khas or Private Hall (The Jewel House):

The purpose of this building has not been clearly established. Some believed that the building was used for religious discussions or to look the exhibited jewelry or so. Hence this building also called the Jewel house.

This is a moderate size building conceived in an unusual manner. It is rectangular in plan and is in two storeys having a flat terraced roof with a pillared kiosk rising above the parapet at each corner.

Bracket Pillar:

The interior is only one chamber containing a massive and richly carved pillar in the centre of the chamber. The pillar is supporting a fantastic spreading capital ever produced. The capital is a circular arrangement of brackets branching out into a series of 36 closely set volute and pendulous brackets carrying a circular platform above, to which small bridges span from each corner of the hall.

The building is unique in its design. There is no such arrangement anywhere in the whole of the world.

Miscellaneous Structures:

There are numerous other structures built to serve for different purposes.

The important are as follows:

i. Diwankhana-i-khas (Khwabgah) or House of dreams

ii. Anup Tala’o – A water tank containing a platform in the center connected by four bridges

iii. Astrologer’s seat

iv. Daftar khana (Record room)

All the structures have much the same architectural characters. The exterior of these structures is remarkable with their wide, striking, horizontal eaves casting deep shadows. The structures are connected by pillared corridors and stone spreaded open spaces which is excellent.

Religious Structures:

Undoubtedly the most marvelous splendour of architecture of Fatehpur fort is the group of religious buildings.

They are:

1. Jama masjid

2. Buland Darwaja or Triumphal Gateway

3. Saint Salim Chisti’s tomb

Buland Darwaja and Salim Chisti’s tomb are a part of Jama masjid.

But they have been separately described here:

1. Jama Masjid:

Dominating the scene and occupying the highest point on the ridge of Fatehpur Sikri is the Jama masjid. This covers a rectangular area of 134 metres north and south and 165 metres east and west making this the largest mosque of the country.

The mosque is as per true traditions and conventions, consisting of a large open courtyard (Sahn) with pillared cloisters on its three sides and the western end occupied by a sanctuary. The quadrangle presents a great effect of dignity and spaciousness.

Sanctuary Facade:

Here the facade of the sanctuary consists of large rectangular portico in the centre containing a spacious arched alcove. The pillared arcades on each side form the wings. A large dome rises over the nave behind the central portico. There are smaller domes over the wings.

The remaining is covered with flat roof. The range of pillared kiosks over the parapets presents an excellent look of skyline. The architectural and decorative elements are most elegant and completely finished.

Sanctuary Interior:

The sanctuary is entered by three doorways through an arched portico. The three side archways give access to the aisles. The nave and the aisles were covered by domical roof. Mural decoration was carried over most surfaces of the walls of sanctuary hall. All types of embellishments like carved, painted and in-laid ornamentation were applied to the surfaces.


The western wall of this sanctuary contains the principal ‘Mihrab’. There are three Mihrabs in each of the seven bays. The central one recessed by some 1.3 metres from the face of the wall, pentagonal in shape. This was covered by a little semi-dome and is splendid in its beauty and decoration. To the north of this central Mihrab is the pulpit, a simple marble structure of three steps.


The flat roofs are supported on pillars carved in pure geometric shapes. The shafts are first square in section, then octagonal and finally sixteen-sided with an octagonal section at the very top.

Badshahi Darwaja:

There is an entrance to the mosque in the centre of east side, which was used by Akbar. It projects from the wall of the mosque in the form of a half-hexagonal porch, 13 metres broad by 19 metres high. This is called the Badshahi Darwaza.

2. Buland Darwaza:

This is a great Triumphal archway to the Jama masjid in Fatehpur Sikri commemorative of the conquests of Akbar over the Deccan, built on southern side after some twenty-five years of completion of Jama masjid.

Size and Scale:

The gateway is a most imposing structure of 41 metres high, approached by steep flight of steps of 13 metres high from the roadway. In its front, it measures 40 metres in breadth and from front to back it is 38 metres, thus presenting a great form of masonry of immense proportions, making all other buildings smaller in its vicinity.

Front Facade:

The most notable in its front facade is its huge portal structure containing a large main face in the centre and chamfering side faces. The central main face is 26 metres wide with its great arch and half domical vault. The side faces are in three storeys with varying openings in each stage.

The most striking feature is the large arched recess in the centre, the semi-dome of which is carried on five surfaces in the form of half-decagon. Above this is the perforated parapet behind which raises a range of kiosks. The stately structure is decorated in rectangular frames with marble inlaid borders, emphasizing its beauty.

Rear Facade:

The rear portion of the gateway is joining into open court of the mosque and is a fine mass of masonry containing three arched entrances. The rear side façade consists of recessed tiers backed by fine-pillared kiosks joining and matching with the features of the mosque.

The Buland Darwaza is a work of great force, presenting awe and inspiring view, especially when viewed from the ground below.

3. Saint Sheik Salim Chisti’s Tomb:

The marble Dargah of Sufi saint Shaik Salim Chisti is one the most famous examples of marble work in India. This was placed within the open courtyard of Jama masjid of Fatehpur Sikri in northwest corner. This is an edifice presenting most delicate chiseled, polished and fretted lace work of great grace.

This building is a square measuring externally 7.3 metres side. Entrance is through a porch projected on pillars from south side. Inside is a square mortuary cell of 4.8 metres side. A wide verandah is carried round the cell. A low simple dome covers the cell. Verandah carries a flat roof on pillars and the spaces in between the pillars are filled with marble perforated screens.

Brackets and Pillars:

There are carved brackets all-round to carry the extremely wide eaves. The chief beauty lies in the elegant material and the fine ivory type carvings. The brackets or struts are unique in their design. They consist of long serpentine volutes with the spaces between the curves filled in with perforated foliations. Structurally these supports have little value. They are almost decorative. The marvelous work of this tomb building is certainly a produce of temple builders.


Though this royal capital city was built ambitiously, but the life of this stately city was extremely short. Its glory lasted for little less than a generation. This was abandoned due to the reasons like lack of water, hot climate and its location not being Delhi. It is now remaining as a mute testimony, exhibiting the greatness and supremacy of its designers, builders and the great royal patronage. The great buildings have not lost their charm even now.

16. Islamic Architecture during Mogul Period-Jahangir (1605-1627 C.E):

Nuruddin Salim Jahangir the son of Akbar succeeded the throne after Akbar. Jahangir devoted much of his time in Kashmir landscapes.

The construction of buildings by Jahangir is low, when compared to his predecessor and father Akbar. Remarkable structures built during this period are described here.


1. Mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandra near Agra.

2. Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, the father of Jahangir’s Queen Nurjahan at Agra built by the queen.

3. Kashmir gardens.

1. Mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandra, Agra, 1613 C.E:

Akbar commenced the construction of his mausoleum during 1600 C.E. Jahangir completed it in 1613 C.E. The scheme of Akbar’s mausoleum was conceived on a large and grand scale set in 48 hectares of land in a square of 690 metres side. Its perimeter walls enclose a large garden with the tomb building placed in the centre measuring 98 metres side and over 30 metres in height.


Four gateway structures were built in enclosure walls and each was placed in the middle. Three structures are false and were added for symmetry and beauty. The south gate is the main entrance. The entrance structure is magnificent and elegant in its proportions and decorated with bold in-laid ornamentation. It contains four graceful white marble Chatri topped minarets rising above at each corner. The design of these minarets is original and new in their design and form.

Garden and Water Pools:

The gateway leads to a well laid ornamental garden having pathways suitably expanded at intervals to accommodate water pools and fountains. The garden is symmetrically and geometrically laid with green lawns, bushes, trees and flower plants.

Tomb Building:

The tomb building takes the shape of a low truncated pyramid, built in three storeys. The first is the large and wide lower floor. Above this is an arrangement of red sandstone pavilions forming the middle portion. The upper storey is an open court surrounded by marble screens.

The ground storey is over 91 metres side and 9 metres in height having a series of arched recesses in its four sides. In the centre of each side rises a tall rectangular portico structure containing arched alcove and above the parapet is a graceful marble kiosk. Access is provided to the tomb chamber inside by a doorway from south side. This lower portion was completed during last years of Akbar’s reign.

Some of the upper portions built were demolished, altered and reconstructed. The middle storey consists of arcades of low height and row of kiosks. The top most storey is of white marble, light in appearance with range of perforated screens. And above this, at each corner are the tall and graceful kiosks.

The interior of this storey is an open court surrounded by arcaded cloisters, with cenotaph in the centre exquisitely carved. A dome over this would have certainly enhanced its beauty and elegance. But the building does not have any dome on its top. It is in its truncated appearance. The interior of tomb was heavily decorated in patterns of floral, geometric and calligraphy in stucco.


The mausoleum is one of the ambitious productions, but as a whole it lacks its effectiveness. History says that the ideals of father and son differed and there were clashing of temperaments, of which this building also may be the result of the effect. When compared to the great buildings of Akbar and that of Humayun’s tomb, which were built some fifty years ago, the mausoleum of Akbar is retrogression. Had Akbar lived and supervised this building, it would have been a great monument to his stature.

Unfortunately Akbar’s tomb did not rank in merit. Mohammad Adil Shah’s tomb called Golgumbaz built in Bijapur achieved the merit of largest tomb of India.

2. Kashmir Gardens:

Kashmir is mountainous and is cool in climate. It is already a natural garden laid with trees, forests and springs. Within this natural landscape man made gardens were laid in its sloping grounds. The Mogul emperors Jahangir and Shahjahan re-laid some gardens.

The popular gardens are:

i. Shalimar garden, Srinagar, 1630 C.E

ii. Nishat Bagh, Srinagar, 1633 C.E

i. Shalamar Garden, Srinagar, 1630 C.E:

This is located on northeast side of Dal Lake some 15 kilometres from Srinagar city in Kashmir state laid by Mogul King Jahangir around 1630 C.E. This is a celebrated royal garden of Kashmir. Shalimar means an abode of love. Early in 6th century C.E this site belongs to Hindu king Pravarsena II who built a sacred structure here.

The site of this garden is approximately 12.4 hectares. It measures 587 metres long and 251 metres wide. It is oriented from southwest to northeast with the higher point located on northeast side. The topography and the contours of the site were well exploited in making the design of this pleasant garden.

The design of this garden is similar to Persian ‘Chahar bagh’. The main stream is flowing in the center axially and other channels are crossing the axial stream, which divide the garden into four parts. The central water channel is the main feature. The water flow of the stream from top is channelised downwards into terraces through Baradaries (pavilions) in the garden. The stream water flows into a larger pool at each terrace highlighting the Baradari.

The total garden is laid on three large terraces- First lower level terrace is a public garden. Second middle level terrace is Emperor’s garden. Third higher level terrace is Zenana (Harem) garden.

The two small pavilions at the entrance lead to the public garden on first terrace. A large Baradari or Diwan-i- Am (Public audience hall) is located in this terrace, where daily court transactions of the people were conducted by the king when the king was in camp at Srinagar. A black marble throne is the central feature of this hall. Water cascades surround this throne.

The second terrace accommodates the Diwan-i-Khas (Private audience hall) where the distinguished guests, noble men of the court had access. Only the basement remains now.

Up above this second terrace the Zenana garden houses a Baradari of black marble called Black pavilion built by Shah Jahan. This is surrounded by a fountain pool. Behind this at the end there are two octagonal pavilions and a cascade wall in which small niches (Chini khana) were cut into it. Once, oil lamps were placed in these niches.

The Shalimar garden in its enliven cool and natural surroundings with its Chinar row trees, water pools, fountains, flower beds, baradaries is a heavenly garden in Kashmir.

ii. Nishat Bagh, Srinagar, 1633 C.E:

This is situated on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar in Kashmir state. This is the largest Mogul garden in India built by Emperor Jahangir. It was also named as Garden of Bliss. It is designed by Asaf Khan, the brother of Nurjahan, wife of Emperor Jahangir in 1633 C.E. The garden has the background of Zabarwan Mountains. It has the splendid view of snow filled Pir Panjal mountain range and Dal lake.

The garden is built in different levels. There is a small spring behind the garden known as Gopi Tirth. This is the source of supply of pure water to the garden. The water stream is channeled axially in the center of the garden with water flowing down to the lower terraces. The channel is widened to form a pool at the place where Baradari (pavilion) was built. Green grass lawns, walking passages, flower beds, trees, fountains are laid symmetrically in the garden.

There are ruins of some buildings, one is a double storey pavilion enclosed on two sides with latticed windows.

17. Islamic Architecture during Mogul Period – Shahjahan (1627-1658 C.E):

Shah Jahan’s name as prince was Shahib-ud-din Muhammad Khurram. As emperor he was called Shahenshah Shah Jahan. He was the son and descendant of predecessor Jahangir. New range of marble structures were built in place of red sandstone making it Marble era.

Architectural Characters:

Transition from Red Stone to Marble:

Shah Jahan’s reign is termed as marble era. Architecture has reached highest form of expression with exceptional splendour. In place of sandstone, marble was largely employed. Hence a new expression was achieved in its fine and smooth form. As the marble used here is of white colour, hence it became necessary to carefully decorate the surfaces by means of inlaid patterns in coloured stones in lines to emphasize the boarders.

New Forms in Buildings:

New and fine design forms are filtered and a whole series of new designs were created.


A noticeable change was found in the shape of arches. The curves of arches are foliated by means of nine cusps. These engrailed arches have become distinguishable feature of Shah Jahan’s structures.


The dome has assumed a new shape. The curve of Persian type bulbous dome was pressed inwards at its neck.


The pillars are square or twelve-side type. In some instances they are double pillars of circular cross-section. Shah Jahan’s predecessors’ sandstone structures were removed to replace them by new structures of marble.

At the fort of Agra, the following structures were added at different times:

i. Diwan-i-Am

ii. Diwan-i-khas with double columns

iii. Moti-masjid or pearl mosque

The marble palaces and pavilions are:

i. KhasMahal

ii. Shish Mahal

iii. Nagina masjid

In the same manner, at Lahore within the fort, Akbar’s sandstone structures were removed to accommodate new structures.


The important structures built during the reign of Shah Jahan were:

i. Jama Masjid at Agra

ii. Jama Masjid at Lahore

iii. Black pavilion at Shalimar garden, Srinagar

iv. White marble pavilion at Ajmer garden.

1. Mogul Gardens, 17th Cent. C.E:

Mogul emperors laid gardens in the surroundings of their structures. It shows love and interest towards nature and environment. Such gardens are laid in tomb sites and also near palaces in forts.

Few Examples:

i. Humayun’s tomb, Delhi

ii. Tajmahal, Agra

iii. Akbar’ mausoleum, Agra

iv. Red fort, Delhi

2. Kabuli Bagh:

Babur, the founder of Mogul dynasty has laid a large garden at Panipat to commemorate his victory over Ibrahim Lodi in 1527 C.E.

Layout of Garden:

Garden was laid mainly in symmetrical and geometrical lines. It was an arrangement of squares and it was further subdivided into smaller squares. It contains paved paths, water pools, fountains, plants, trees, green lawns etc. Oblique lines and curves were seldom used. Chinar (Sycamore) tree was prominent in Kashmir gardens.

Gardens were laid in sloping ground in descending levels in Kashmir. The flow of water downwards was utilized into pools and fountains. Garden was located where the source of water like a spring or a stream was present.


Pavilions, loggias and kiosks were an integral part of these gardens. High walls enclosed the garden for security and privacy.


i. Shalimar garden, Srinagar

ii. Nishat Bagh, Srinagar

18. Islamic Architecture during Mogul Period-Aurangzeb (1658-17017 C.E):

Aurangzeb was the son and successor to Emperor Shah Jahan. His full name is Muhi-ud-din Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahadur Alamgir I. He is one of the longest ruling emperors after Akbar. Aurangzeb extended empire’s boundaries and ruled tyrannically. Mogul empire gradually shrunk after Aurangzeb. Muhammad Shah and Bahadur Shah Zafar were the last kings for name sake only after Aurangzeb.

The vigorous construction activity that had been in force during predecessors was now declined. The buildings of Aurangzeb’s reign show the same common usual features in a restrained mood. Aurangzeb’s buildings changed from stone and marble to brick and rubble structures finished in stucco plaster. Ribbed dome was used.

The important buildings that were selected here for brief description are:

1. Moti masjid, Red fort, Delhi

2. Badshahi mosque, Lahore

Names of Other Structures:

i. Jama masjid at Mathura.

ii. Aurangzeb’s tomb built at Khuldabad near Aurangabad which is a simple structure in sharp contrast to the magnificent tombs of predecessor Moguls.

Oude Nawabs:

Architecture during Oude Nawabs:

After the death of Aurangzeb, the Nawabs of Oude became paramount and the center of power was transferred from Delhi to Lucknow. The British influence increased and Islam domination decreased.


Safdarjung’s Mausoleum, Delhi, 1750 C.E:

The last prominent tomb structure built in the city of Delhi is the mausoleum of Safdar Jung (1739 – 1753 C.E), a nephew and the Prime Minister of the first king of Oude, who resided at Delhi. The tomb building is large in size and designed in the usual manner of Mogul structures. The main building was placed in the middle of a large ornamental garden. The building contains common elements like large and small arched alcoves, turrets with kiosks and a central dome all disposed in conventional manner.

With this example the notable and forcible Mogul architectural movement that developed and persisted at Agra and Delhi came to an end.

Later Structures:

There are other large numbers of structures especially the palaces built at various places like Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur and Gwalior during 16th and 17th centuries. The planning of these structures and the architectural features are more or less similar and same to the contemporary time. The surfaces of the buildings were not kept plain, but were decorated too heavily leading to confusion, lack of beauty, imbalance and disharmony.